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Not getting enough SUN may raise risk of early menopause

Not getting enough SUN may raise risk of early menopause and more severe symptoms, study suggests

  • Vitamin D is thought to slow down the aging of women’s ovaries
  •  It also helps protect against falling serotonin levels, which reduces hot flashes
  • READ MORE: FDA approves first-ever drug to ward off menopausal hot flashes

Vitamin D might prevent early menopause and its most serious symptoms, another study has suggested.

Results from a review of data from 6,000 American women indicated that women who don’t get enough of the sunshine vitamin are a third more likely to go through ‘the change’ before the age of 45.

One theory is that vitamin D slows down the aging of the ovaries. It is also thought to help with symptoms such as hot flashes because vitamin D protects against falling serotonin levels, which helps regulate body temperature.

Early menopause robs women of the chance to have kids naturally and can mean symptoms are more severe. It can also increase the risk of weak bones and heart disease.

Black women and ethnicities with darker skin are most at risk because they require more sunlight to get vitamin D.

Menopausal symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, changes in mood, sleep disturbances and cognitive difficulties, which can significantly impact women’s lives

Vitamin D might prevent early menopause and its most serious symptoms

This graph from the study in Cell shows the amount of menopausal women in each age group who have vasomotor symptoms, better known as hot flashes or night sweats

The CDC advises between five and 10μg a day is enough for most people. 

You can buy supplements that cost as little as 20 cents a pill.

The CDC recommends that older adults, people with dark skin, and people who don’t get exposed to enough sunlight should consume extra vitamin D. 

There are other ways to get enough vitamin D, including nutritional supplements and vitamin D-fortified foods. The majority of people can get their vitamin D through these channels.

Researchers from the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Iran looked through data from 6,326 American women who had gone through menopause.

Largest review ever into menopause care

Most women going through menopause are not being given proper treatment, leaving millions to suffer in silence, a major review suggests. 

The data was from 2001-2018 and was taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) database.

The study used self-reported data from a questionnaire to assess the participants’ ages at menopause and reproductive lifespan — the time between a woman’s first and last period.

Women were classified into three categories (early menopause, normal menopause, and late menopause) based on their age at menopause. 

Early menopause was defined as before the age of 45 years, normal menopause was defined as menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, and late menopause was defined as menopause after age 55.

Reproductive lifespan was categorized as less than 33 years, between 34–38, and more than 38 years.

Women also had their vitamin D levels measured using a blood test as part of the study. 

The research suggested that women deficient in vitamin D could be up to 34 more likely to go through early menopause. 

Lower vitamin D levels were also associated with a higher risk of a shorter reproductive lifespan. 

However, when the results were adjusted for age, race, education levels and wealth, no association between vitamin D levels and early menopause was found.

When the results were adjusted for age, smoking, alcohol consumption, pregnancy, chronic comorbidity, and BMI, the association was statistically significant.

Menopause is a normal part of aging that occurs because the ovaries stop producing eggs. As a result, levels of the hormones that ovaries produce drop.

A hallmark sign of menopause is that affected women stop getting their period.  

Nearly nine in 10 women experience symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes, night sweats, changes in mood, sleep disturbances and cognitive difficulties, such as anxiety and low self-esteem, as well as memory or concentration problems.

Other signs include sexual issues, bladder problems and dryness of the vagina.

Symptoms usually arise before menopause officially begins, during a period called perimenopause. During this time, women’s periods become irregular, hot flashes start, and fertility decreases.

For some, this only lasts a few months, but it can stretch as long as four to eight years. 

The average age of onset for menopause in the US is 51. Those who undergo it between the ages of 40 and 45 have what doctors call ‘early menopause.’ 

After menopause, women enter post-menopause. This is when a woman hasn’t had a period in over a year, and symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and changes in sex drive continue. 

This lasts for the rest of a woman’s life.

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